1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    What to do when your family wants to see your novel but you can't really show them...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Alesia, Sep 2, 2013.

    This is the predicament I'm in right now. My family and friends know I've been pouring my heart and soul into this novel, and they've been asking to see excerpts. Only the problem is this: My novel is a lesbian romance and said family and friends are HIGHLY intolerant religious fundamentalists. What should I do? Just say "I don't think you'd like it" and let it be, or show them anyway and let the chips fall where they may?
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I don't know. I know my own novel has a rather controversial theme as well. While there are certain family members I wouldn't show it to, there are many people I THOUGHT might object who have actually loved it. So I guess it's a judgement call, balanced by how badly you would feel if they reacted antagonistically to the story.

    If you tell them there are themes which 'highly religious' people might not like, and give them the chance to back out before they read it, they can't say they weren't warned.

    I don't know how old you are or how dependent you are on their approval, but it might be time to assert your independence, and let them know you won't be pushed around, or kowtow to beliefs you don't share. I don't think it does any person harm, no matter what their views might be, to learn that others don't necessarily share their outlook on life. It's especially important for them to learn that people they love (and who love them in return) don't necessarily agree with their religion or politics or whatever.

    Good luck. Not an easy hurdle to jump, but once you've jumped it, one way or another, you'll feel very empowered, I'm sure!
     
  3. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    If you haven't finished it yet you could always say that you would prefer to be able to work on the book without outside input until it is at a point you are happy with. If you are not comfortable sharing it with your family and friends remember that if you intend to get it published they will have access to it and as supportive friends and family they will probably want to read it after it is published. It all depends on your situation and your main concerns with showing it to them.

    If you are more touchy about letting them know what you are writing about than having them read it, then telling them that they wouldn't like it seems like the best option.

    Or if that isn't your concern you could tell them a watered down summary of what it contains and then let them decide for themselves whether they want to read it.
     
  4. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I'm 27 and not very dependent on approval necessarily. I would like to share what I'm doing, like I share my other hobbies, but see these are people who if you even use the term "gay" in reference to being happy they go absolutely ballistic.

    More of the thing with me, is I'm not sure if I want to hear a six month long tirade about "sodomite women" and burning in hellfire.
     
  5. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I think your family and friends will eventually have to reach the conclusion that you have different views to them. From the sounds of it maybe being honest and saying that they would not agree with or enjoy reading your novel would seem appropriate and from how you've described the situation may be your only option without offending anyone close to you.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then I think you already have your answer. Unless, like jennart said, you want to assert your point of view for better or for worse. It depends on how important it is to you.
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh God, and my biggest problem in your shoes would be "everyone thinks I'm a wanker" (which is a bit like how I feel when I write gay male characters). I feel sorry for you, dude, but if you're 27, I don't know, maybe it'd be a good time to shake your family and friends a bit? I mean, you aren't dependant on them anymore, and you're an adult, free to do as you please. On the other hand, you can wait till the novel is published in which case they'll be conflicted rather than right out hostile: whether to be proud that their son/friend published a novel or to be shocked at what kind of a novel it is (oh the horror, lesbian romance!)

    You can always remind them of what the Bible says about loving thy enemy too, or however it went.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!
     
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  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Hmmm.... Gonna have to agree with KaTrian here. If you don't agree, you don't agree. It's not your responsibility to cater to their worldview. You just have to decide which is more important to you, then make your decision from there. It's really not the kind of thing random people on a forum can help you decide. It sounds like this is going to be a serious topic, with serious consequences for your life. You're the only one that can decide if it's worth it.
     
  9. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    You're 27, and I'm assuming you have a job. You don't have to cater to them. If you need their approval, write a "cover-up" novel with one of the MC's as a guy.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hm.... I wish we had a place in the forum for threads like these. This isn't really about writing, more about the issues a writer deals with as a writer. You know, something like... a Lounge! Oh, wait, we had one of those, but it turned into the Politics Mosh Pit. It's a shame, that, init?

    A little anecdote from my own culture, @Alesia. The way gays and lesbians often "handle" themselves in this, my culture, is to adopt a mindset, an inner dialogue, that being gay is no one else's business. They do a little internal script-flipping and make it like the suppression, repression, and marginalization of gays and lesbians is a personal choice, not one that is being forced down their gullet. A pretty simple and obvious survival mechanism. You hear gays of my generation say things like, "I don't tell my family out of respect blah, blah, blah..." as if the million lies that get told on a daily basis are in some way respectful. The prisoners need no jailers because they themselves dutifully lock the cell doors. Dutifully. When I first met my hubby, William, it took months for me to show him that when dealing with my family, the lies and pretending had to stop because we don't play that game.

    Your situation isn't exactly the same as that, obviously, but there are similarities. I know you don't want to hear the six month tirade, but that tirade is coming one day. Get it over with. I'm assuming you're fiscally independent and aren't fearing "getting kicked out". You have as much right to be honest about who you are as they have to be honest about who they are.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    For the time being, there's nothing wrong with saying that you don't want to share mere excerpts, because you're still working on it and don't want anyone to see it until it is done. That is true for many writers, regardless of the subject matter of their stories.

    But, at some point, you will have to decide -- do you want to keep it secret or let them know? I would say it's best to alert them to what it's about. That is, when they ask to read it, you can say, "It's a lesbian romance. Are you still interested in reading it?"
     
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  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with chicagoliz on this. Maybe they'll ask to read your novel and you say," You wouldn't like it." They'll say, "Why not?" Then you can say, firmly, "Because it's a lesbian romance!" If you use exactly the right tone, they won't even believe you - they'll think you're putting them on as a way of telling them to back off. :D

    Of course, this kind of thing only works in the movies.

    I think they'll find out about your novel at some point, unless you want to go through your whole life hiding it (and presumably anything else you write) from them. Is that worth it? You might as well just tell them, and if that means a six-month tirade, then face it. Or just tell them to shut up and keep their bigoted opinions to themselves - it sounds a bit like you're dying to do that, anyway.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I am wary of the way you refer to your family and friends - you make them sound like they have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and that's simply not true. It cannot be true, or you wouldn't love them and call them your friends. When you say "fundamentalist", are you truly aware of what the term means? Western borough is fundamentalist - someone like John Piper, despite being highly conservative and anti-women-leaders and anti-gay-sex, is NOT a fundamentalist. They're very distinct and different creatures. If your family were truly "fundamentalist", given what I know of them from the stories I've read on the internet (many from first hand accounts of Christians who have left their fundamentalist families behind), I'd venture a guess and say that you wouldn't have been allowed to write, period. (unless of course you were writing godly things such as the penalty of sin) You're on the internet and part of a forum of sinners, reading God only knows what - yet another thing I will assume fundamentalists would never have allowed, unless you've disowned your family, which sounds unlikely seeing as they know you're writing and seem supportive.

    So I will assume your family and friends are really only conservative, which can make them intolerant - but this intolerance can often stem from ignorance and not from a malicious heart. Your book could be a way of opening conversations and actually an opportunity to educate them.

    Eventually your family will have access to your book, if you manage to get published. Just be honest and tell them the subject matter and then well, take it as it comes. The truth is, conservative Christians *can* change their minds - you can have a conversation with them and disagree with them without risk of being insulted or attacked. They might look at you with regret and say "I'll pray for you" and start doubting your salvation, but it wouldn't be malicious lol.

    I don't even have any homosexual romance in mine and I'm not keen on the idea of my parents reading it - it's got torture and rape in it. But then again, I honestly don't think they'd read it.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry to say, i don't see how anyone here can advise you on this, alesia... only you know your family and only you can decide what is most important to you...

    just don't lie about it, because that will only be worse in the end...

    love and motherly hugs, maia
     
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  15. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I suppose I used the term "fundamentalist" because it seemed appropriate. There can't be ignorance here, because it's not like they haven't been around plenty of gay people that were, to be honest, NICER to them then anyone in the church. They hate gays and anything to do with "the sin of sodom" simply because the Bible says so.
    They do that anyway because you know, heavy metal is the devils music.

    I'm moving out of my parents house in a week, I guess I'll just go through this whole ordeal and get it over with when I'm 2700mi across the country and can just silence the ringer on my phone until they finish having a meltdown.
     
  16. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Dude, I envy you: my parents and sister like the fact that I'm writing since they appreciate the act of producing art, but when it comes down to it, they don't really give two shits about the stories. I've tried offering the first chapter of my and KaTrian's first novel for them to read, but none of them are really into literature and at best my sister read the first couple of pages and that was it, too busy with her work / studies and all that. All our betas are either long-time friends or people we've found on writing boards.

    Then again, I do understand your dilemma since my folks tend to dislike all things dark and our current WIP is pretty murky to say the least. The same goes for my band: I'm the only one in my family who likes heavier music and while my dad (guitar teacher) and sister (amateur musician) listen to our albums and give me feedback, they don't like the music itself even though they can appreciate the technical / theoretical aspects of the performances / compositions.

    That being said, if my folks wanted to read my writing, I'd let them even though I know they wouldn't enjoy it. They might even be a bit shocked by the fairly graphic violence, sex, and dark themes, but the way I see it, it's their problem, not mine. So if I was in your shoes, I'd let them read it and if they got upset because of the content, well, that's just being silly. Of course I don't know your family, so if you get people with tar and feathers banging on your door after showing your book to them, don't blame me. :D
     
  17. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Naw, it'd be more like:
     
  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm sorry to hear this. You sound pretty frustrated. Well, not all Christians are like this, and who knows, maybe your book would make them finally understand some of what it feels like to be gay and that gay people really can love too. All the best to you anyway! Hugs.
     
  19. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I am frustrated. I'll admit it: this religion thing is a big part of why I'm moving to the opposite side of the country. Now as far as understanding what it's like to be gay? I don't think ANY of us could fully understand it. I'm trying to, asking questions on here, contacting local LGB organizations, etc.. but, since I'm not gay or a woman, I still will never be able to capture the full perspective of how a lesbian feels in this world.
     
  20. Smitty91
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    Smitty91 Member

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    Given that I'm the only really religious person in my household, I can't help you, because I've never been in a situation like this. However, I am glad to see that your family at least shows interest in your work, unlike mine. My family treats my career of writing like it's a joke. I think the best thing to do, as others have said, is to give them a brief description of the novel and let them decide for themselves whether or not they would like to read it. Don't sugarcoat it since that would be dishonest and that kind of behavior will not get you very far at all in your writing career. :)
     
  21. GHarrison
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    GHarrison Senior Member

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    If you try to say "I don't think you'd like it" as a deterrent, that won't work. It is more of a challenge to them than anything. They are probably just curious about your creativity.

    I'd suggest the best thing is to simply say that you are uncomfortable showing unfinished work to anyone and leave it at that.

    Also, maybe come up with a separate short story about something more tame and give it to family that can't handle your heartfelt material. More than likely they are just trying to be supportive, and a bit of your writing will be enough to give them what they need to feel satiated, and closer to you by having experienced some of your work.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    On the one hand, it's not your job to make your family and friends happy about your world views.

    On the other hand, it's also not your job to give them the opportunity to beat you up about your creative efforts. Pre-reading is a privilege, and it doesn't sound like they've earned it. If you don't want to feel that you're hiding anything, you could, if you choose, _tell_ them that it's a lesbian romance, but you still don't have to let them read it.

    If I were in your situation, I would say that they can wait until it gets published and buy a copy like everybody else.
     
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  23. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Suggestion: "I'm sorry, but it's not yet finished and I'm not ready to show it to anyone or discuss it."

    That's always worked for me.
     
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  24. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Well... I went ahead and just said the subject matter. And... It's going in the exact direction I thought it would. I don't care though. I just calmly called them bigots and explained that I don't share their views on things, and if they can't accept my creativity, then so be it.
     
  25. DH Hanni
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    DH Hanni Member

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    Sorry to hear that it didn't go well at all. Perhaps explaining to them that it is a piece of fiction and not everything you write they will like but the characters had a story to tell, a story that's important to them. Hope that makes some sense.
     

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